Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Day Six- Snowshoeing and More Ice-Climbing

Our last full day at Basecamp and in Finland, really don’t want to leave!

Today we took the optional activity of the Castle Rocks snowshoe. This is a four hour walk into the Oulanka National Park and into a restricted area that is home to some flora not found anywhere else in the world.

After a little bit of snow yesterday afternoon we actually woke up without any sun for the first time all week and had cloud all day!

It was good fun to be out as a (nearly) entire group again. We snowshoed part of the Little Bear Trail before heading ‘off piste’ into some thicker snow and really making use of the snowshoes.

After a few hours of walking we reached Castle Rocks, a huge cliff that the river has eroded either side but left standing as its made of a harder rock type than the surrounding rocks. The photo below shows how high it is, look very, very closely at the base and you’ll see our group!

Castle Rocks

Getting close to the rapids and the frozen waterfall was fantastic, Eki explained all the rapid grading that they white water raft down in summer. He also explained how the frozen waterfall is the biggest rapid, a grade 6 that they don’t raft around, and is the only one that freezes. The spray thrown up from the rapid freezes making it freeze from the outside, leaving the water running underneath.

Jyrävä frozen waterfall

Next to the falls was a near vertical climb up, thankfully the snowshoes gripped and there was a rope to help haul up, it would have been a wet and cold landing should anyone have slipped!

Once again it was the silence that was outstanding and there was really no-one else around as we were off the main trail.

Following a big lunch of Lasagne and Teemu’s special blueberry and balsamic dipping sauce, we elected to do an extra ice-climbing session .

This time it was just me and Ben with Salla, one of the trainees and Eki. We asked to learn more about the equipment and skills rather than just climbing.

Unfortunately, following the long ski and walk yesterday and this morning I had no strength left and ended up slipping and leaving my glove hanging from the ice-axe strap! On my last attempt I made it half way up the wall before slipping and it was me that was left hanging by my wrists on my ice axe that I had managed to wedge quite firmly into the wall!

Ben of course managed to fly up the wall like Spiderman! One of the extra skills we were learning was the belay each other. When Ben was climbing I was fine , however as soon as he put his weight on the rope to abseil back down I ended up flying off my feet and having visions of him plummeting to he ground, while I shot to the top of the wall… it would have been the only time I reached the top this time! I finally managed to get myself stabilised and brought Ben safely back down.

A hot tub and sauna eased some of the aches and pains we had acquired over the week before wrapping up warm for dinner in the woods. As a special last meal we had reindeer, mashed potato and lingonberry jam, which I have to say beat the same dish we had in Ruka hands down! There was also the fact we were sat under lean-to shelters, in the wood around an open fire while the snow gently fluttered down, all adding to the experience.

Dessert turned into a bit of a Ready, Steady Cook with us all having to make our own pancakes on the open fire and there was a little bit of competition on who was the best ‘tosser’ J

Back at Basecamp the team surprised Adam for his 40th brithday with one of the loveliest cakes I have ever tasted (mom your's is still the best - BM J).  It was a cream and strawberry sponge with loads of chocolate!

Finally Eki showed us a beautiful slideshow of Basecamp in summer and autumn, sealing the decision that we will definitely be back again!

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